tv National Museum of African American History and Culture Grand Opening CSPAN September 24, 2016 11:59pm-2:01am EDT
history tv, only on c-span3. campaign 2016 bus is in ohio this week in dusky students and voters, what question would you ask the candidates to debate? >> right here in dayton ohio, in thet important issue election are all of the higher education and other issues that affect millennials. as the youngest state-elected official in a while, i think our state officials and washington, are, need to make sure we creating higher education that is affordable and making sure we don't leave my generation $17 trillion in debt and a social security and medical system that will not be there when we need it. ask i am a sophomore. my most important issue as education, both at the k-through 12 level and high school
university level. i think high school needs to be more equitable and benefit all students regardless of zip code, race, social-economic status and i think we need to find a way to make college more affordable. >> i am a medical major. to me, the most important issue 1 high am a junior at audubon university. i think one of the most important issues in this year's candidacy is education. i think fostering it from a young age is very important and there are discrepancies between the two candidates that we need to expand upon. >> what his from the road, on c-span. the smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture opened its doors to the public for the first time today.
speakers included president obama, former president george w. bush, and founding museum director lonnie bunch. this is american history tv, only on c-span3. [applause] >> please welcome the 43rd president of the united states, george w. bush and former first lady, laura bush. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states, accompanied by first lady, michelle obama. [applause]
>> it is hard to believe it has been four years since we were first tier for the groundbreaking. what a tremendous accomplishment. a special word of appreciation goes out to brother lonnie bunch. [applause] only through his efforts and a dedicated staff that worked with him was is able to be accomplished. the night is beautiful. so are the faces of my people. the stars are beautiful. so are the eyes of my people. beautiful also is the sun. beautiful also are the souls of my people. say it loud. i am black and i am proud. say it loud. i am black and i am proud. when those thousands of slaves
ships took us far beyond the sights and smells of our land, and beyond the far-reaching flights of our birds. the caribbean, south america, central america, and the wilderness of north america -- there, we were asked to sing one of the songs. some said, how can we sing the lord's song in a strange land? others said, you can think if you know the lord. we did sing. we sang spirituals. we sang the blues. they sing them on broadway. basing them in the hollywood bowl. they put them in symphonies. they fixed them so they don't even sound like me. they took my spirituals. they put them in macbeth and carmen jones. they put them in all kinds of swing.
they put them in everything, but what's about me. i guess one day somebody will stand up and talk about me. they will write about me. they are going to write about me. black and beautiful. they're going to sing about me. they are going to do plays about me. they are going to make movies about me. where is oprah winfrey? make movies about me. i guess it will be me. yes, me. what we are witnessing here today is the a compliment of -- the accomplishment of many, all walks of life, coming together to put of this monument to those who made america great. yes. we built the wall. we put steak and mud on top of -- stick and mud on top of each other. we built the wall. not only literally, but figuratively. anybody could be great if you had me working for you for 200 years and never paid me a dime.
[applause] come on. then, we had to get it straight. their father within the civil war. civil war tried to straighten us out. after the civil war was over, france had to send a statue over here to commemorate me. we put it in our home, new york city. recall that the statue of liberty. we welcomed everybody. what do you want to send people away from? this is give me your tired, your poor. send me the homeless tempers tossed to me. i let my lamp beside the golden door. we need this museum because it was me polishing the door to keep it cold in all those years. -- old in all those years. [applause] i see this audience in front of me, by know there are those
across the country watching this now. i celebrate this day because not only do we have a chance to give great applause to our president, the one and only, who has done more for this country than anyone in a long time, barack obama. [applause] >> i want you to know, as i stand here -- i'm almost through, but i'm a baptist preacher, so that is the first finish -- the words of inspiration are meant to say to you that in this museum is the blood, sweat, and tears of generations. in this museum is the blood, sweat, and tears of men who have gone out and raised the dollars to make this work. that is why i'm glad they sat me next to ken.
you should give can a round of applause because he did a lot of hard work to get this done. [applause] finally, i want to state of the unrest in the nation today, and i'm very aware of what is going on. when i go in here and walk past the capture of emmett till, i'm very aware of what is going on. i want you to know that this was only accomplished because men and women of goodwill, black and white, rich and poor, republican and democrat, put their hearts together, their minds together, and their hands together in order to build this great monument to a people who have truly given their all to the united states of america. finally, i want to say, do not be discouraged by what is ahead. hold onto your dreams. keep the faith. one african-american preacher wrote, he said, harder yet may
be this fight, and right may often yield to might. satan caused may seem to gain. all but there is a god that those above. he has a hand of power and a heart of love. if i am right, he will fight my battles, and we will be free someday. i think we are right. i think dr. king was right. i think marian anderson was right. i think so many who have gone before us are right. i think barack obama is right. if we are right, god will fight our battles and we will be free someday. i thank you for gathering today. we have got a wonderful celebration before us. may god bless you. may god less the african american museum of history and culture. may god bless america. thank you so much. [applause]
>> ladies and gentlemen, the secretary of the smithsonian institution, david scorney. [applause] >> good morning. what a historic day to be together here on the national mall of the united states. it is my distinct pleasure to welcome everyone to this dawning of a new era at the smithsonian institution today. today, we open wide the doors of this museum so that people in the nation's capital, throughout america, and across our world. the dream that so many envisioned is made real. several people who supported us along the way are here with us this morning. including john lewis, representative of georgia's
fifth district and author of the original legislation to establish the museum. [applause] >> sam brownback, governor of kansas and lead senate sponsor and co-author of the legislation. [applause] >> it is also my great honor to welcome former president and mrs. bush and current president and mrs. obama. [applause] >> thank you all for your enthusiastic support of this endeavor. we welcome as well to vice president joe biden and dr. jill biden. mr. vice president, i personally thank you for your work on behalf of our work as the board
of regents of the smithsonian. and for your commitment of both of you to the smithsonian and to our newest museum. let me also recognize paul ryan, speaker of the house. [applause] former president bill clinton. [applause] nancy pelosi, house democratic leader, representative of california's 12 district. eleanor holmes norton, delegate to the district of columbia. [applause] and, muriel bowser, mayor of washington, d.c. [applause] and, to the supreme court justices, members of the cabinet, members of the
foreign dignitaries, and all of our distinct wish -- all of our distinguished guest, welcome. thank you for your tremendous support of the smithsonian and the museum of african american museum and culture. like all of the smithsonian museums, this one truly belongs to the american people. a museum is many things, but to elements are important. the people who curate, preserve, interpret, and share its stories, and the collection itself. the incredible passion for this museum becomes evident when you find out about its collections. the majority of the nearly 37,000 objects, 3000 of which are currently on display, come from individuals and families, memories passed down through generations, stored in cupboards
cs, hung on -- atti walls, displayed on coffee tables. yet, the people who donated these personal moment does new of their great power. the items displayed on the walls of this museum display truths. the universal truth that the african-american story is indivisible from the american story. [applause] that story is often resilient, triumphant, and inspiring. but, it is also tragic. the museum candidly confronts and interprets slavery and jim crow. legacies that haunt us to this day. because of its honesty, this museum will spark dialogue, not just about our past, but are
-- our present. it will be an important part of the national conversation, helping us to more effectively face our racial issues and divisions and move forward, somehow, together. this striking monument, to african-american contributions and citizenship, this national museum of african american history and culture will help us in our common cause of building a more perfect union. to quote lincoln, "it will strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation's wounds." congratulations to director lonnie bunch and his staff for this remarkable achievement, and to the museums council, the smithsonian region, and all of the staff who made this possible. thank you. [applause]
>> please welcome the vice chair to the board of regents of the smithsonian institution, dr. shirley ann jackson. [applause] >> good morning. it is a high honor to me to be here today. i began my life, my education, surrounded by the resources of our nations capital. but, in a segregated school. the people with the highest expectations for me, as a young african-american girl, were my parents. my mother taught my siblings and me to read before kindergarten. my father, very mechanically gifted, served in world war ii, in a segregated army unit. during the normandy invasion, he
repaired the writers of the amphibious vehicles that brought the troops to shore. he did this under fire. for that, he received a bronze star. my parents, born just 50 years after the end of the civil war alone could not have carried me to the life i have had. without the influence of two events that set me on a new trajectory and had the smithsonian institution not been here to substantiate that influence. the first was the brown versus board of education supreme court decision which allowed me to attend integrated schools instead of traveling miles across washington to segregated schools. the second event was the launch
by the soviet union of sputnik one, the first artificial satellite, which ignited my interest in science and strengthened the math and science curriculum in the public schools in the united states. in junior high school, i was tested and placed in an accelerated honors program, which led me to m.i.t., where i was one of only two african-american women in my class. the first ever. my great fortune was having the smithsonian as an extension of my classroom. it opened my eyes to the wonders of the natural world and to science. it's art and cultural resources allowed me to understand other eras, other places, other lives. it developed my empathy,
imagination, and sophistication. it took a young girl, not from a wealthy background, from a segregated environment and enriched her life, immeasurably. today, the smithsonian institution launches a museum where the history, culture, and african-americans, like my father, like congressman john lewis, like our president, barack obama, and others are recognized fully, constituting a great tributary, feeding the larger strain of our national story. this is so meaningful for me, and for millions like me, to see
the full story of a people who came here enslaved, yet lifted so many others up, and ultimately themselves. todaya very great thing for the millions of children from all over the nation and around the globe who will come to the national museum of african american history and culture, be moved and astonished, and emerge with an elevated sense of their own heritage, their own prospect, their own potential. my father always says, and for -- aim for the stars. to at least reach the treetops, and be sure to get off the ground. i took his advice. many african-americans, their
achievements, large and small, now are given a place of honor here on the national mall. on behalf of the board of regents of the smithsonian institution, i thank all of you for being here. i thank all of those who brought this to reality. thank you. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, and -- angela bassett and robert de niro. [applause] >> from the time that african-americans were brought to these shores in slave ships, they have written down,
sometimes in secret, sometimes in the open air, there hurts and heartaches. their joys and the music inside. this is what they said. >> frederick douglass said this. "there is but one destiny it seems to me, left for us, and that is to make ourselves and be made by others a part of the american people in every sense of the word. the way to right wrongs is to turn the light off of truth upon them one had better died fighting against justice than die like a dog." >> said ida b well, one of the founders of the naacp. >> mohammed ali came off the ropes in the eighth round. he shook the world by speaking truth to power. this is what he said.
"champions are not made in gyms, champions are made from something they have deep inside them. a desire, a dream, the vision. they have to have the last minute of stamina, they have to be a little faster, have the skill and the will. the will has to be stronger than the skill." >> when they asked her why she did not give up her seat on the bus when they told her to, rosa parks said this, "i was not tired physically, i was not old, i was 42, no, the only tired i was was tired of giving in." >> i believe that if one can experience diversity, touch a variety of its people, laugh at its craziness, distill wisdom from its tragedies, and attempt to synthesize all that is inside one's self without going crazy,
one would have earned the right to cal themselves citizen of the united states. so wrote the pulitzer prize-winning author james alan , mcpherson. >> congressman john lewis, who at 21, was one of the 13 original freedom writers said this, "we may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us, ours is not a struggle that lasts a few weeks, a few years, it is a struggle of a lifetime." thank you. [applause] >> please welcome u.s. representative of the fifth congressional district of georgia, john lewis. [applause]
rep. lewis: president and mrs. obama, vice president biden, jill biden, president and mrs. bush, president clinton, mr. chief justice, and members of the board of regents, to the museum advisory council, secretary davis, and dr. lonnie bunch, to the leadership of the united states congress, to the house and senate, in memory of the late representative of texas, the architects of this incredible building, and the
white house, the congress, the smithsonian who push and pull together to make this moment happen, and to all of the construction companies and their crews, i thank you. thank you for all you did to help lead our society to this magnificent day. as long as there is a united states of america, now there will be a national museum of african american history and culture. [applause] this is a great achievement. i tell you, i feel like thinking -- singing the song from the march on washington 50 years ago. how we got over. how we got over. there were some who said, it could not happen.
who said, you cannot do it, but we did. we did it. we are gathered here today to dedicate a building. this place is more than a building. it is a dream come true. you and i. each and every one of us were caught up in a sea of light. minds ofn in the life's veterans, and their supporters, they met right here in washington, d.c. in 1916. exactly 100 years ago, the 19th street baptist church still in existence today. all said, see what a dream can do. they rolled up their sleeves, a
chest of war on their backs. you might find the wounds of shackles and whips. most could not read the declaration of independence or write their own names, but in their hearts, the burning vision of true democracy. no threat of death that ever erased. understand the meaning of their contribution. it's that possibility in motion, passing down through the ages from heart to heart and breath to breath. we have given birth today to this museum as a testament to the dignity of the dispossessed in every corner of the globe who yearn for freedom.
it is a song to the scholars and scribes, scientists and teachers, to the revolutionaries, and the voices of protest. to be ministers in the office of peace it is a story of life, the , story of our lives. wrapped up in a beautiful golden crown of grace. i can hear the distant voice of ancestors whispering, find the light, still away home. we have not got long to stay here. i woke up this morning with my mind on freedom. all of their voices roaming for centuries have finally found their home here, in this great monument. our pain, our suffering, and our victory. when i was a little child growing up in rural alabama --
hundreds of miles from the washington monument, our teachers would tell us to cut out photographs of great african americans for negro history week, not african american history month. i became inspired by the story of george washington carver, jackie robinson, rosa parks, and so many others whose life and work would be enshrined in this museum. as these doors open, it is my hope that each and every person who visits this museum will walk away deeply inspired, filled with a greater respect for the dignity of every human being and
president george w. bush authorized the legislation for the establishment of a new smithsonian museum, the national museum of african american history and culture. [applause] when i toured the museum with dr. lonnie bunch last week, we reminisced about those beginning days of the museum, the legislation had been authorized, the site had been secured. lonnie had been hired as the museum's director. i will never forget lonnie's poignant words when we consider the historic and cultural significance of what was to become. lonnie paused for dramatic effect, or so i thought, and then said, what do we do now? lonnie, look at what you have done. [applause]
you and your team have truly achieved a monumental achievement, congratulations. our next speaker signed the legislation and assured the museum's place on the national mall, my husband, president george w. bush. [applause] president bush: thank you all. thank you, darling. [laughter] laura has been very much engaged in this museum for a long time. she sits on the board. we're honored to be here. my first reaction is i hope all of our fellow citizens come to look at this place. it is fabulous. [applause]
mr. president and first lady, vice president, chief justice, david, thank you very much. i do want to give a shout out to lonnie. it is really important to understand this project would not and could not have happened without his drive, his energy, his optimism. [applause] as laura mentioned, 15 years ago members from both parties and sam brownback informed me they were about to introduce legislation for a new museum to celebrate the achievements of african-americans. it would be fair to say that the congress and i did not always see eye to eye. if you know what i mean, mr. president. [laughter]
this is one issue where we strongly agreed. i was honored to sign the bill. authorizing the construction of this national treasure. i am pleased it now stands where it always belonged, on the national mall. [applause] this museum is important, it did -- an important addition to our country for many reasons. here are three. first, it shows a commitment to truth. a great nation does not hide its history. it faces its flaws and correct them. [applause] this museum tells the truth that a country founded on the promise of liberty held millions in chains. the price of our union was america's original sin. from the beginning, some spoke to truth.
john adams who called slavery and evil of colossal magnitude, their voices were not heeded, and often not heard. they were always known to a power greater than any on earth. one who loves his children and meant them to be free. second, this museum shows america's capacity to change. for centuries, slavery and segregation seemed permanent. permanent parts of our national life, but not to frederick douglass, harry tubman or rosa parks, or martin luther king jr.. [applause] all answered cruelty with courage and hope. in a society governed by the people, no wrong lasts forever. after struggle and sacrifice, the american people, acting through the most democratic of
means, amended the constitution that originally treated slaves as 3/5 of one person to guarantee equal protection of the laws. after a decade of struggle, civil rights acts and voting rights act were finally enacted. even today, the journey towards justice is still not complete, but this museum will inspire us to go farther and get there faster. finally, the museum showcases the talent of some of our finest americans. the galleries celebrate not only african-american equality, but african-american greatness. i cannot help but note -- [applause] i cannot help but note the huge influence, in my teenage years, is honored here, the great chuck berry. or, my baseball idol, growing up
in far west texas, the great willie mays. and of course, something i never really mastered, the ability to give a good speech, but thurgood marshall sure could. some may know that i am a fledgling painter, a struggling artist. [laughter] i have a new appreciation for the artist's beautiful work displayed here. people like robert duncanson, charles henry austen. our country is better and more vibrant because of their contributions and the contributions of millions of african americans. no telling of american history would be complete nor accurate without acknowledging them. the lesson in this museum is the all-american share of past and a future by staying true to our
mr. wonder: thank you so much. i have not seen it yet, but i'm going to. [laughter] i was born blind, but blessed with a vision. of vision sees what we all know and feel. i know and feel that we must come together. this can not go on, any of it, all of it. all of the back and forth and the hatred. trying to divide us as the united people of the united states of america.
other countries getting involved in our business -- no, no. it cannot go on. history has shown us that we can rise. we can climb up from all of these moments that should never define us. but, remind us that we can come together, as we have, as we can, and as we will. as you climb the stairs of this magnificent testament, as you visit the story of the people, the country, the spirit, remember our strength, our courage. know that we must come together. we must come together. think about that. as you think, can i ask all of you one question? just one question.
>> please welcome chancellor of the smithsonian institution and the chief justice of the united states, john g roberts junior. [applause] chief justice roberts: thank you, lonnie, for scheduling me right after stevie wonder. [laughter] supreme court decisions such as rick scott versus sanford. plessy versus ferguson, and brown versus board of education document shame and hope along the road of equal justice under law. this museum provides a place for us to learn what life was like for the brave individuals who brought the cases to the supreme court.
you can see the tragedy of dread and -- dred and harriet scott in the 1840's, offering cash for the return of fugitive slaves. dred scott had traveled widely throughout the united states with his owner. he met and married harriet in what is now minnesota. they had two daughters. when his owner died, he tried to purchase his and his family's freedom with money he had struggled his whole life to accumulate, but the owner's widow turned him down. only then did he turned to the courts. with the supreme court ruling that he and his family were not even persons under the constitution. you can see the bravery of homer plessy against the backdrop of the pullman railroad car on display.
homer plessy was a fair skinned man of mixed racial ancestry. that is how he was able to purchase a ticket for the whites only first-class compartment. when the conductor came to collect his ticket, homer plessy announced that, under louisiana law, he was a black man. he set in process the test case, challenging jim crow laws. a test that the supreme court would fail. and, you can grasp the wrenching dilemma facing oliver and leola brown. how do you balance of hope for a
better life for your 11-year-old daughter against real fear for her personal safety? oliver and leola brown were people of strong faith. he was an assistant pastor at his church. together, they made the choice to enroll linda in the whites only school. together, they changed the world. you can read the court's decision in dred scott versus sanford, in plessy versus ferguson, and in brown versus board of education, and learn what the court held. if you want to know what those cases were about, you need to meet dred and harriet scott, plessy and oliver and leola brown.
you can do that in this new museum. thank you. [applause] >> ladies, advisory council members to the national museum of african american history and culture, ken chennault and linda johnson rice. [applause] >> this is a glorious day. on a personal level, i think i feel like many people here. i think of my parents, i think of my ancestors, i think of the chennault's, and they are more at peace today. [applause] distinguished guests and
friends, it is an honor and privilege to stand with you today, like everyone who serves on the advisory council, i feel a great sense of pride when i look at this magnificent building, and i think about what it represents to everyone at the smithsonian, to lonnie bunch and his terrific team, i thank you for bringing this dream to reality. [applause] to the individual donors, to the foundations, and to the corporations who provided financial support. i thank you. the doors will open here today because of the tremendous support that came from all
americans -- black, white, all colors, nationalities and religions, rich and poor, the famous and the family next door. our calls for help were answered by so many because so many believed that this could be a museum for all americans. and you will not be disappointed. it captures by definition, the history and culture of african americans. [applause] it will share stories of struggle and success. those who died for freedom, and those who braved the way for others to follow.
it will celebrate great achievements against great odds. it will remind us of the power of dreams and faith. it will caution us that more work lies ahead, and the road will not be an easy one, but as a museum for all americans, it will also remind us that what brings us together a stronger than what us apart. thank you. [applause] >> our emotions today come not only from being official who were lucky enough to help play a part, but for being the sons and daughters of those who came before us. we come to thank our brave ancestors who are inside this museum. and in a more personal way, to
thank our own families, whose courage and tenacity set us on our way. my father left arkansas because there was no high school education, and few opportunities for him and for his mother. they moved to chicago, where he was teased for his raggedy clothes, but his mind was ablaze with new ideas, such as white readers like white magazines. wouldn't black people like to read something about their own lives and inspirations? -- aspirations? [applause] together, with my mother, they went on to create the most successful magazine devoted to black life -- "ebony" and "jet."
they allowed us to see ourselves in ways we never have before, to make us proud of who we are, what we have done, and what we can do. they reflected a full cross-section of black america delivered by our best thinkers, trendsetters, activists, celebrities, and next generation leaders. more than just a magazine, they ignited conversation, and became a catalyst for progress and pride. i am overwhelmed by what is happening here on the avenue of history, the strong, magnificent building, and within it, not just stories of our challenges, but centuries of african-american contributions from all walks of life. today, is a chance for me to share with my daughter and your